Governor's office reacts to Nixon's letter to MOHELA board.
From Missouri Digital News: https://mdn.org
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed

Print

MDN Help

MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed

Print

MDN Help

MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
Lobbyist Money Help  

Governor's office reacts to Nixon's letter to MOHELA board.

Date: September 6, 2006
By: Rachel Higginbotham and Lucie Wokken
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - A spokesperson for Missouri's governor dismissed the attorney general's written objections to the college loan program sale proposal as a "rant."

"This latest rant just proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Attorney General is an enemy of higher education and of creating jobs for Missouri working families," said Jessica Robinson.

In a nine-page letter issued Wednesday to the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority's board, Attorney General Jay Nixon urged the board to reject Gov. Matt Blunt's latest proposal to sell $350 million worth of MOHELA assets.  The liquidated assets would in turn be used to fund capital projects at Missouri public universities. 

According to Nixon, the plan would "fundamentally alter the direction, purpose and focus of MOHELA from helping students cope with the increasingly high cost of higher education to harnessing those same students to the wheel to generate cash flow to fund capital improvements at the state's colleges and universities."

The money made available by the sale would only fund the down-payment for capital projects and could lead to even higher spikes in tuition to supplement the project costs, Nixon argued.

"So, under this proposal students will have the dubious privilege of paying for the down payments of these projects with their loan payments, and the balance of these projects through their tuition," he wrote. 

Nixon has said he plans to run for governor in 2008.  Blunt has not said whether he intends to seek reelection.

Last week, another statewide Democratic official, State Auditor Clair McCaskill, attacked the loan sale plan.  She criticized the administration for circumventing the legislature in evaluating both the plan and the specific building projects the administration intends to fund.

Rep. Mary Donnelly, D-St. Louis, commented, "There is no doubt that our colleges and universities need the investment in capital projects.  But to provide that assistance by taking from the money available for needy students is wrong."

Despite the Democratic attorney general's objections, Democratic floor leader Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia stuck with his endorsement of the plan.

"I support the latest MOHELA proposal.  At this point, it appears this is a way to allow the state to fund [needed facilities on the Mizzou campus and other public colleges and universities around the state]," Harris said in a written statement

Nixon released this letter just two days before the MOHELA Board is scheduled to vote on Blunt's latest proposal.  The Board meets in Chesterfield Friday.